Imagine! Anti-circumcision, ‘pro-Israel’ Germans
Commentary by Clemens Heni
BERLIN — On Sunday, September 9, 2012, the first ever rally favoring circumcision and Jewish (and Muslim) life in Germany was held in Berlin. In May 2012 a Cologne court had ruled against a Muslim circumcision and generalized that the rights of children are threatened by every single circumcision, regardless at what age it is made. This is probably the most hardcore attack by a leading country of the world against the Brit Milah and Jewish life as such in recent decades. Jews and Muslims are extremely irritated, sad, and frightened. A rabbi at the rally was blowing the Shofar!
Some 300 people joined the rally. Orthodox Rabbi Yitzchak Ehrenberg as well as liberal Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin spoke, the two united on the podium. The event was organized by the Berlin-based Forum for Democracy and against Antisemitism (JFDA), lead by former head of the Jewish Community of Berlin, Lala Süsskind, and her colleague Levi Salomon. They are both known for their tireless fight against all forms of anti-Semitism.
A few weeks before, they organized a rally against the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic al-Quds day, an Iranian propaganda event to denounce Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. At the rally to protect circumcision the head of the (liberal) Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, spoke in support of the Jews in fighting the hardcore anti-circumcision climate in Germany. A young German-Turkish actor gave his first speech ever, because he is so upset about the discussion in Germany.
Organizations like the Giordano-Bruno Foundation (known for their work against Islamism, too) announced that they are going to start a campaign later the month to attack circumcision and to fight for the “rights of children,” and against the decision-making of parents vis-à-vis the Brit Milah. Jews are accused of abusing children, in effect, if not intent. This is a new form of the blood libel, framed in nice German words, always suggesting that Germans love children. In fact many Germans hate Jews and Judaism and do not like children either. This is the background for that important rally.
Several Israeli flags were displayed at the event, too. However, compared with a rally just the week before against an anti-Semitic attack against another rabbi on the streets of Berlin by (probably, according to eye-witness) German-Arab-Muslim youngsters, where some 1500 people, many Christians among them, showed up, the 300 people were a small group
The very same Christians and liberal Germans who always love to pretend to be open-minded and pro-Jewish dislike Judaism as soon as it comes to circumcision. The political elite in Germany did not show up at the event, besides one social democratic Member of Parliament, who did not join the rally in his political function as vice President of the German Bundestag, rather as an individual. This speaks volumes.
In recent weeks there has been a huge debate about circumcision in all parts of German society. Right-wing extremists like the homepage Politically Incorrect (known for their support of groups like the party Die Freiheit, the Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, the so called Pro-Germany movement and the campaign “Stop the left” or “Linkstrend stoppen”) wrote that Jews will not have a place in Germany if they keep on practicing the circumcision. Over 600 mainstream doctors, legal scholars and others published a letter in leading conservative daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), and argued against circumcision. Marginal left-wingers and NGO-activist (in Iraq and the Middle East) Thomas von der Osten-Sacken equated the Brith Milah more or less with female genital mutilation (FGM). They’ve lost perspective and run riot.
This is also related, by the way, by pro-Israel publishing houses in Germany like ça ira, known for a few interesting publications. However, they also published books saying that the left should support Israel as long as the world is structured in nation-states and the rule of capitalism prevails. But what happens thereafter? Will Israel have a right to exist, in their minds, if the world is no longer structured in nation-states and no longer ruled by capitalism (the two evils which are responsible for anti-Semitism in their view)?
A tiny journal in Berlin, Bahamas, closely related to the publishing house ça ira, also pretended to be pro-Israel in recent years. They publish articles against Islamism, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. However, they urged (!) their readers and followers in a short statement on September 4 not to join the pro-circumcision rally because they detest “religious traditions.” In fact this reads like this: they support Israel but have an Israel in mind without circumcised Jews. Maybe they just want a female Israel with a few not-circumcised gentiles? It is interesting that the very same people like Osten-Sacken who are against anti-Zionist Judith Butler, who will be awarded the prestigious Adorno-Prize on September 11, 2012, in the city of Frankfurt, now attack Judaism and the Brit Milah. It’s a contradiction to be against anti-Zionism while sharing anti-Jewish feelings (framed as pro-child ideology).
Others, like journalists Richard Herzinger or Henryk M. Broder make fun of philosopher, composer, music and art critic and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno, who just survived Nazi Germany because he fled for the United States, and equate him with anti-Semitic Judith Butler, because both are liberals or leftists. Adorno fled the boycott of Jews (his father was Jewish) while Butler endorses anti-Semitism and the boycott of Jews in Israel. Adorno dealt with anti-Semitism as early as 1947 when his and Max Horkheimer’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” published in German (in Amsterdam). They were completely paralyzed by the Holocaust and tried to analyze the Western impact in it. A core element, though, was their analysis of Germany and anti-Semitism – as early as 1947. Herzinger and Broder distort this history and embrace their own hatred of the left. They can’t see that there are leftist scholars and activists, who are against anti-Semitism of all kinds. They are obsessed with fighting the left and they are against Judith Butler not just because she is an anti-Zionist alone, but because she is a left-wing anti-Zionist. They do not analyze the fact that the former long-time mayor of Frankfurt, Petra Roth, a typical German conservative from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of chancellor Angela Merkel, decided in favor of leftist anti-Zionist Judith Butler, alongside with a horrible committee, including Axel Honneth, the head of the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt, which was founded by Max Horkheimer in the early 1930s.
The Jerusalem Post just reported the other day about this journal Bahamas and the fact that they were not allowed to speak at a University in north-eastern Germany. Anti-Zionist Germans and the German state do not like the Bahamas. However, self-declared friends of Israel like the Bahamas who even urge their followers not to join a Jewish (and Muslim) rally to protect Judaism, Jewish tradition and the circumcision, are hardly pro-Jewish. They are not just silent about a pro-circumcision rally. They are so outraged about Judaism that they urge their “friends of Israel” (!) not to go to that event. Non-Jewish Germans explaining to Jews what it really means to be pro-Israel. That’s fun.
At the event in downtown Berlin one of the rabbis openly said that the circumcision, the Brit Milah, is seen by Jews as a connection with God, and is among the very few things almost all Jews, regardless if they are true believers, orthodox, liberal, agnostic, non-believing, atheist or whatever, join. At the rally he said that over 90 percent of Israeli male Jews are circumcised, this is an essential part of Israeli and Jewish identity.
Not so for German activists who love to be seen as pro-Israel, while they want a fantasy Israel with no Judaism at all. Who needs anti-Semitic enemies with that kind of friends? Well, that’s Germany.
Heni is a freelance writer in Berlin
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